Egypt hosts Africa summit on Sudan, Libya

Egyptian president Sisi calls for coherent regional response as protests continue in Khartoum and fighting rages in Tripoli.

CAIRO - Egypt Tuesday hosted African leaders for summit talks on the upheavals in Sudan and Libya, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned against "a slide into chaos".

Sisi called for a coherent regional response, as protests continue in Khartoum despite the toppling of Omar al-Bashir earlier this month and as strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces bear down on Tripoli.

"The principle of African solutions to African problems is the only way to deal with common challenges facing us," Sisi said in opening remarks to the summit on Sudan, according to Egypt's presidency.

The gathered leaders were to focus on "the evolution of the situation in Sudan", Sisi's office said.

"We are taking into account the efforts the Sudanese transitional military council has taken as well as the civil and political forces... to overcome this critical juncture," Sisi said.

Sudan's military council, which took power after Bashir was deposed, has so far resisted calls from protesters to stand aside immediately for a civilian administration.

Three months

The African leaders in Cairo urged Sudan's military rulers to implement a democratic transition within three months, the Egyptian presidency said.

The African nations agreed on "the need for more time" for Sudanese authorities and political actors "to implement peaceful, organised and democratic transition measures", it said in a statement.

They also urged the African Union to extend by three months a deadline, currently the end of April, for Sudan's military council to hand power to a civilian authority or face suspension from the regional bloc.

That would partially ease international pressure on the council to hand over to civilian rule.

The AU on April 15 had threatened to suspend Sudan if the military did not hand over power within 15 days of that date to a civilian authority.

It echoed protesters' demands, saying "a military-led transition would be completely contrary to the aspirations of the people of Sudan".

The army toppled longtime president Omar al-Bashir on April 11, but protestors have continued to hold mass rallies demanding a swift transition to a non-military government -- calls the council has so far resisted.

"We agreed today into the urgent restoration of a constitutional system through a democratic, political transition owned and led by the Sudanese themselves," said Sisi.

"This is to institute a comprehensively democratic political system and entrench the rule of law" as well as safeguarding human rights, he added.

Economic burdens

The summit statement also expressed "the complete support of the African Union and neighbouring countries for Sudan as it faces it political, security and economic challenges".

The participating countries also said they would help Sudan tackle cross-border crime including arms and human trafficking in order to maintain "regional stability".

Sisi cautioned Sudanese political actors to "safeguard the state's order to prevent a slide into chaos".

Last month, Sisi warned against the dangers created by protests, but fell short of explicitly naming Sudan, or Algeria, where demonstrations have toppled long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The Egyptian president also called on the international community to "shoulder the pressing economic burden" created by Sudan's challenges.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced three billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) in financial support for Khartoum.

Attendees in Cairo include Chadian President Idriss Deby, Rwanda's head of state Paul Kagame, Congo's Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Somalia's Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa and Djibouti's leader Ismail Omar Guelleh, Egypt's presidency flagged on Monday.

The leaders of South Africa and Somalia, among the first to arrive, held separate meetings with the Egyptian president before the first summit on Sudan.

The summits are the first to be convened by African leaders on the current crises in Sudan and Libya.

The AU suspended Egypt and the Central African Republic in 2013 following coups in both countries. Both have since had their membership restored.

'Elimination of terrorism'

Discussions in Cairo on Tuesday would also seek to "stem the current crisis" in Libya, said Egypt's presidency.

The summit on Libya, which will group the leaders of Rwanda, South Africa and the Republic of Congo with Sisi, was to focus on "relaunching a political process... (and) the elimination of terrorism", Egypt's presidency said.

Strongman Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, on April 4.

The battle in the south of the capital between the LNA and forces aligned with the GNA has so far left more than 260 dead and wounded more than 1,200 others, according to the World Health Organization.

The United Nations says the Haftar offensive has also displaced more than 30,000 people.

Egypt is a strong ally of Haftar, who is also backed by the UAE and -- according to the White House -- was consulted by US President Donald Trump in a phone call last week.

Before the launch of the Tripoli assault, Faki had said the AU would host a "reconciliation" conference in July aimed at uniting Libya's political rivals.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moamer Kadhafi and a series of international efforts have so far failed to unite the country.